Name: Karen Moore

Years Lifeguarding: 31

Location(s): Mesquite, Texas

In the summer of 1989, I was 17 years old, and wanted to experience a new adventure with my Summer job. I decided that  instead of just babysitting, I would try my hand at becoming a city lifeguard for the City of Mesquite, Texas. I had always loved swimming, so I thought “why not?”

After going through an extremely hard class and earning my certification, I was waiting to be placed as a “sub” guard. Soon, I had started subbing at two different locations for about a month, and really started loving the job. 

One day they decided to put slides in all the locations. Our newest challenge was learning how to “ski” down the slides so we could keep our eyes on our victims at all times. After several hours and many bruises later, I finally mastered the task. 

A few weeks later, as I am at the top of the slide, I noticed a little boy. He was very small in size and looked to be about 5 years old, but as the rules were, he was tall enough to slide down the slide. 

There was just something about this little boy that told me “get ready.” He came up to me, sweet and innocent, introduced himself, and said “Hi! I am Michael, and I am a very good swimmer.” insisting, “ I can swim really good.”

I questioned if he was a strong enough swimmer to ride the slide, and then watched him prepare to go. I had a feeling, and so I took off my sunglasses, grabbed my airhorn (which is what we used back then), took off my whistle and told the “pool boys” (who liked to hang out on the slide with me), to hit the button on the horn when I said to. 

I watched as Michael went down, hit the water, and went under. I counted, “ One… Two… Three.” He did not come up. I signaled to have the horn sounded, and “skied” down to the water. I found him under the strong current of the slide, remembered my training, and I immediately got him out of the water, and to the side.

I was soon met by the manager of the pool, and he then took over compressions with the head lifeguard. I was told to immediately go find his family. 

After we revived him, and he was back with his family, I just sat there with this “WOW” feeling. Adrenaline slowing, that feeling of depletion creeping in, and it was at this point that my manager allowed me to take a “breather.” 

A week later, I was sitting in the stand in the shallow area, and I felt this shadow come up behind me. I then felt this little, sweet kiss on my cheek, (normally we are not allowed to have anyone come up the stand with us, but the manager made an exception and walked over to watch the water), as Michael thanked me for saving his life. 

I will never forget the feeling of those soft little lips or his small sweet voice as he said, “thank you Miss Lifeguard, for saving my life….. I guess I need to learn to swim a little harder next time.” 

I broke down, sat there with tears coming down my face, and had to come off the stand for the rest of my shift. 

That one day will always stay with me,  and it is why I remained a lifeguard. I am in my 40’s,  and I will be a lifeguard as long as my body allows me to be. It’s because I know that little ones, like Michael, need me and give me purpose as a lifeguard. 

Images provided by Karen Moore.